The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will continue to investigate the Presidential Security Group (PSG) and other reports regarding the alleged unauthorized use of vaccines against the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Tuloy ang NBI investigation dahil meron kaming order galing kay Sec. Guevarra na natanggap ng NBI kahapon (The investigation will push through because Justice Sec. Menardo Guevarra has already issued the order which the NBI received yesterday),” NBI deputy director and spokesperson Ferdinand Lavin said during an interview over CNN Philippines.
Lavin said the NBI’s Special Action Unit (SAU) headed by Atty. Emeterio Dongallo Jr. has been tasked to lead the investigation over reports of the alleged unauthorized use of the vaccine.
The NBI spokesperson made the assurance after President Duterte warned Congress against subjecting the PSG under legislative probe over the alleged unauthorized use of the COVID-19 vaccine for the PSG security personnel.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) even called off its investigation over the issue regarding PSG’s use of the vaccines.
Under Department Order No. 314, Guevarra told the NBI “to conduct an investigation on the reported importation, sale, offering for sale, distribution, administration, and inoculation of COVID-19 vaccines that are not authorized by or registered with the Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines, and, if evidence warrants, to file the appropriate charges against all persons involved and found responsible for any unlawful act in connection therewith.”
In the same order, the secretary also directed NBI Officer-In-Charge Director Eric Distor “to submit reports on the progress of the subject investigation directly to the Office of the Secretary within ten days and periodically thereafter.”
Lavin believes that the President’s warning was only made against the plans to conduct congressional probes over the PSG’s use of the vaccine.
“Tuloy ang sa amin (Our investigation will push through) unless that order of the secretary is withdrawn,” Lavin said.
Lavin said NBI investigators will be reaching out to PSG commander Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III “today or in the next few days maybe through the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”
The spokesperson said Durante may come to the NBI, preferably with a lawyer, or send a lawyer instead.
“If a lawyer submits an affidavit, a letter, then that would suffice,” he assured.
On the other hand, if the AFP becomes uncooperative in the investigation, Lavin said the “we will build up the case on independent evidence.”
Aside from the PSG, the spokesperson said the NBI will also investigate other reports of unauthorized use of COVID-19 vaccines including the revelation made by Chinese-Filipino civic leader Teresita Ang-See that there have been around 100,000 Chinese in the Philippines who received shots of the vaccines, particularly, those in the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operation (POGO) industry.
“We also expect that we can reach out to Ms. Teresita Ang-See for her statement involving POGO quarters,” Lavin said.
“Hopefully we can get enough information on that, their whereabouts, their identities, how it happened,” he added.
Meanwhile, Lavin said Dongallo “already sent a communication to the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) requesting for a certification on whether there had already been vaccines which has been registered or whether there are vaccines submitted for registration and on what stage already are these vaccines on the registration process.”
Also, the spokesperson said NBI investigators will also be reaching out to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to determine “whether there had been importations or reported smuggling of vaccines.”